Bupa Australia and New Zealand 2020 financial results
Bupa Group has announced its financial results for year ended 31 December 2020, including an update on Bupa’s Australia and New Zealand (Bupa ANZ) performance.
FY 2019 (CER)
% growth (CER)
* 2019 figures in constant exchange rate (CER)
Last year was extraordinary, marked by severe bushfires in many parts of Australia and the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic across the world. The impact of these events on our business was significant, affecting our aged care homes, retail and optical stores, dental, and medical clinics, as well as corporate offices, particularly in Victoria.
Hisham El-Ansary, Bupa ANZ CEO, said: “Overall, across our health funding and health provision businesses, Bupa delivered a solid result in challenging circumstances with underlying profit down 28% on the previous year. Financial performance was significantly impacted by the effects of the pandemic, investment in improving our operations and measures to support our customers and our people, combined with strong competitive pressures.”
“Our top priority during 2020 was to invest in supporting our customers, residents, and employees as well as the broader community through one of the most significant health crises of our time,” Mr El-Ansary said.
“As the health and economic impacts of the pandemic took hold, we launched a $50 million financial hardship relief package and delayed premium increases for our health insurance customers. We also put new safeguards in place to protect our aged care residents and front-line workers, introduced paid COVID leave and mental health support for our employees.”
In Bupa’s Health Insurance business, revenue was down slightly to $6.84 billion due to competitive market pressures and the actions we took to support customers in response to the pandemic.
Mr El-Ansary said: “Almost 50,000 customers have accessed our COVID-19 support packages so far, offering premium waivers, discounts and suspensions for health insurance customers. This, combined with delaying our 2020 April premium increase for six months saved customers $184 million.”
Market share remained strong at 25%, despite a decrease in membership volumes. Incurred claims were lower due to lockdown restrictions on health providers and suspension of non-urgent elective surgery, with an expected rebound supporting the requirement to establish a provision for deferred claims in 2020.
In response to the pandemic, Mr El-Ansary said: “We were the first health insurer to fund claims for services delivered via telehealth. We also introduced new mental health support, access to a digital fitness wellbeing app, innovative diabetes management options and a new physiotherapy treatment service delivered by virtual reality. Customers responded well to these initiatives with improvements in both our NPS scores and retention rates.”
Health Provision Businesses
Our health provision businesses were heavily impacted by the pandemic with clinic closures, additional employee costs and increased use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). As a consequence, these businesses generated an underlying loss of $52 million, which was $29 million higher than the previous year. Revenue increased by 18% to $1.98 billion, with a full year of operations under the Australian Defence Force contract, stable medical visa assessment volumes and improvements in our dental clinics and optical stores.
While revenue improved in these businesses, profitability was adversely impacted by pandemic restrictions despite the receipt of JobKeeper financial support for eligible optical and dental employees. This support enabled us to retain jobs and meet community needs for services as lockdown restrictions eased.
We supported the ADF throughout 2020, including expansion of the provision of hearing services for personnel and acquiring two optical stores to enhance accessibility. We also expanded our dental portfolio with two new brands – Clearly Dental and Mint*d, a hygiene-led model targeted at millennials.
Revenue in Australian aged care remained flat at $604 million with closing occupancy of 85% (up from 83% in 2019). An underlying loss of $102 million, 36% higher than the previous year, resulted largely from increased employee costs, investment in the operating model, and additional use of PPE. We introduced restrictions on resident admissions in line with guidance from local authorities to protect residents and our people. From July, care homes in Victoria were affected during the second wave of the pandemic, where we implemented precautionary measures and strict infection control protocols. By October, all our homes were clear of outbreaks and open again to visitors.
Mr El-Ansary said: “Throughout 2020, we made significant investments to improve the quality of care and our operating model, as well as addressed previous compliance issues, with our last home coming off regulatory sanction in May.
“Bupa welcomed the recent release of the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. We are confident that with government and providers delivering on the recommendations together, older Australians will receive the quality of care they deserve, both now and into the future.”
As part of our portfolio optimisation program, we sold three and closed one of our homes in December and announced the closure of four more homes in January 2021.
In New Zealand aged care, revenue improved by 1% to $286 million with closing care home occupancy increasing to 91% (up from 89% in 2019). Village unit sales also improved by 34 to 260 units during the year. Underlying profit decreased to $7 million due to higher employee costs and COVID-19 related expenditure. In November, we announced an agreement to divest our rehabilitation business, which will complete in 2021, subject to regulatory approvals.
Mr El-Ansary said while the pandemic had disrupted the industry placing pressure on our health systems, it also accelerated key consumer trends such as in-home care and adoption of telehealth, that would become permanent features in our delivery of healthcare.
“The transformation of the healthcare sector towards empowering the consumer has never been more important,” Mr El-Ansary said.
Mr El-Ansary added that Bupa would continue to invest in meeting customers’ evolving needs and advocating for reforms that would enhance the delivery and affordability of healthcare in Australia.
“I want to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of those on the frontline who have worked tirelessly during this crisis to keep our communities safe, strongly supported by federal and state authorities,” Mr El-Ansary said.
“In these uncertain times, it’s particularly important that our public and private sectors work collaboratively to ensure the long-term sustainability of healthcare for all Australians.
“While the effects of the pandemic will undoubtedly be felt for some time, it is evident that we are responding well as a community and confidence is growing.
“Bupa is well positioned to drive growth, enabling us to deliver on our purpose of helping people live longer, healthier and happier lives,” Mr El-Ansary said.